Pocket Technologies to explore the Digital Public Space at TechWizZ 2013

19th Mar 2013

On Saturday 9th February, Lara and Malé representing The Creative Exchange ran a workshop at TechWizZ 2013 in Accrington Academy, an event that showcases the use of technology, aimed at students, parents and educators alike, working within he frame of launching a new curriculum.


  • The prospect of having a day of mini workshops at TechWizZ 2013 that we could use as a sort of exploratory case study was ideal. The original plan was to design a small workshop and a creative, playful, activity that employs, creatively, pocket technologies in a very simple to explore ways of appropriation of Digital Public Space (hereafter DPS). In this way we had the opportunity to look at:
  • The reception that the activity would have
  • Digital literacy: are the techniques known by the audience? Are they used? Are other techniques better used? Which ones?
  • Digital divide: are those ‘pocket technologies’ commonly used? Do general public have access to those technologies, or is just an assumption?
  • The interest in appropriation: Is the audience inspired to further employ those techniques in similar activities?
  • Levels of appropriation: How and at what levels does the activity intertwine with people’s relation to others and to their place?

The relationship between meaning and place: How would people connect digital content and meaning with a specific location? How will that creative process manifest?

We designed a one-hour “hands-on” workshop on pocket technologies, aiming to explore the possibilities of the digital public space and the hidden affordances of everyday technologies in a playful way. Throughout the day, we delivered three of these Pocket Technologies workshops, in which we had lots of fun playing Charade Hunt.


Charade Hunt, the game we designed for the occasion, is a mixture between charades and treasure hunt. It aims to link location and digital content using the technological devices that we usually carry in our pockets. The players were divided into two teams, and each team was provided with a toolkit: instructions, a brief of the task, iPads with some apps preinstalled, access to printer and Wi-Fi. Each team had to pick a film and create hints with digital content linked to QR codes. Hide the QR codes around the academy. The goal of the game was to find all the hidden codes and to guess the movie of the other team.

The game started when the teams exchanged the first clue:

- Teams scanned the code and there was a picture of a broom! … A broom? Where would you look for a broom in Accrington Academy?
- The students know! One of them ran out shouting “the cleaning room”.
- After visiting six different cleaning rooms in two different floors and wings... Eureka! They found a QR code stuck on a cleaning room door!
- The QR code was hiding a YouTube video: three participants have recorded a video performing a scene of the movie: they pretended to be performing a spell…
-  Wait, one of them knew the venue!
- Running across the school they found the last clue…
- The QR code lead us to a wooden stick. It is a wand! Brooms, spellings and wands. Is it Harry Potter?

Playing Charade Hunt with teams mainly formed by 12 to 14 year old kids was extremely fun! Exhausted and delighted we set off back to Lancaster, marvelled by the amazing experience and with the head full of ideas. We have identified myriad research opportunities with Charade Hunt, about creative uses of everyday technologies and the relationships between meaning, place and digital data. We are preparing a paper about it and we are dying to play Charade Hunt again! Maybe for the CX conference, who knows!?